1. How early should I be for an interview? You should arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time. Use the extra time to browse through your notes one last time and observe the atmosphere. Keep in mind the interview begins as soon as you walk through the door. So don’t talk on your cell phone or underestimate the receptionist! If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your interview, sit in your car and wait. You don’t want to show up too early and make the interviewer feel rushed.
2. What should I bring with me to the interview? Bring several copies of your resume, company research, questions to ask, portfolio, references or recommendation letters, business cards, paper, pen and anything else they told you to bring. It is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. Make sure all of this information is in a folder or binder — no loose papers.
3. What should I know about the interview beforehand? Try to find out as much as you can about what will take place so you will be prepared. Will you have to fill out an application? Will there be multiple interviews during your appointment? Will you be given a tour of the facility? Will you have to take an assessment test? Do they have the proper A/V equipment if you are giving a presentation?
4. How should I dress for the interview? If you are unsure you can simply ask. They may say professional dress and they may say business casual. You can always observe what the current employees are wearing and use that as a guide. But keep in mind they already have their jobs so they may be dressed “down.” So generally I would say “dress to impress.” Don’t wear anything (including jewelry, make up, perfume, cologne, hairstyle) that is going to leave a negative impression on them. You may have a little bit more leeway if you are going into the fashion industry or a creative field.
5. What if I forget the interviewer’s name or don’t know how to pronounce it? Simply call before your interview and ask the receptionist or administrative assistant. This is a big “NO NO” that could be avoided very easily.
6. What if I am running late for an interview or can’t make it at all? If you will be late, call the interviewer and give them an estimated time of arrival and the reason for your tardiness. If something has come up and you can’t make it at all, be honest. Ask if it is possible for you to reschedule. Keep in mind being late or not keeping your appointment is strike one against you and it is a HUGE strike. The employer may just forfeit your interview altogether. If you do get the chance to still meet with the interviewer, genuinely apologize and be sure to make up for the mishap by giving a great interview!
7. What research should I do on the company? You should first start with the company website and look up their values, mission statement, future plans, products, services, honors, awards, current news, training and development opportunities and job openings. You should jot these things down and familiarize yourself with them. Your notes will come in handy when asked “What do you know about our company?” or “Why do you want to work here?” You can also check out the Better Business Bureau, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter and Facebook for additional information. Don’t forget to look up the actual interviewer and know 2 – 3 things about him/her as well. Not knowing anything about the company could be strike 2!
8. What questions should I ask during the interview? You should have at least 3 questions to ask the interviewer such as: A) “What would be a typical day for someone who is hired in this position?” B) “What kind of training program do you have?” C) “What would be expected of me in the first 90 days if I’m hired in this position?” D) “What is your management style?” E) “When do you plan to make a decision as to whom you are going to hire?” You should ALWAYS have questions. Just like the interviewer is trying to see if you are a good fit; you should be trying to see if the company is a good fit for you as well. No questions shows that you are not really interested in the job.
9. What if I am asked an illegal question in an interview? Sadly some employers do not know what questions are illegal. Generally questions related to marital status, having children, race, religion, sex, filing for bankruptcy, hospitalization history, having a car, or garnishment of wages are illegal. So when asked an illegal question respond to the INTENT of the question instead of the question itself. For example if an employer is trying to figure out if you are married he/she may ask, “Will your husband/wife have a problem with you traveling for this job?” Your response should be, “I don’t foresee anything that would prevent me from fulfilling the duties associated with this job.”
10. How soon should I follow up after an interview? You should follow up immediately — definitely within 24 hours. You want to do it right away so you don’t forget and so they don’t forget who you are. You should thank them for taking the time to interview you and giving you the opportunity to learn more about their company. This can be done through an e-mail, voice message or handwritten note. I would suggest you mention something specific that you talked about in the interview to make them remember you. Also, if you are sending an e-mail include additional information such as recommendation letters, LinkedIn profile, blogs, online portfolio or video resume. Remember, each interviewer needs his/her own individual thank you.